One of the EU’s top courts has removed Hamas from the EU’s list of terror groups on the same day that the European Parliament has voted to recognize Palestine as an independent state. The courts claimed that the move was merely a technicality, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that it is nothing less than a betrayal of the legacy of the Holocaust. As Haaretz reports:
“We saw today examples hanging before us of European prejudice,” said Netanyahu at the opening of his meeting with U.S. Senator-Elect Joni Ernst of Iowa. “In Geneva, they are calling for an investigation against Israel for war crimes, while in Luxembourg the European court removed Hamas from the terrorist list. It likes like there are too many people in Europe, on the ground where six million Jews were slaughtered, who haven’t learned a thing. The friendship we see from the United States stands in complete contrast to what we are seeing regretfully in Europe.”
The removal of Hamas from the list of designated terrorist entities is a technicality in the sense that the group’s funding will remain frozen, but coming on the same day as the EU’s vote to recognize Palestine the optics could hardly be worse. Whatever the merits or benefits of recognizing Palestine may be from a European perspective, Europeans do themselves no favors in showing sympathy, however symbolic or merely technical it may be, with a terrorist group whose raison d’etre is killing Jews. One might also note that the decision on Hamas will be deeply unwelcome in Ramallah. The last thing the Palestinian Authority government on the West Bank wants is a flow of European money to its rivals in Gaza.Still, Netanyahu’s remarks probably won’t do him any favors. While comparisons to the Holocaust obviously touch a powerful emotional chord, Netanyahu’s critics have in the past lambasted him for using such “hysterical” rhetoric to further his political objectives, and they will likely raise a similar outcry here. And despite his comments about the American-Israeli friendship, official relations with the U.S. government are the worst they’ve been in decades. On the upcoming UN resolution demanding Israels withdrawal from the West Bank to pre-1967 lines, John Kerry announced that the U.S. had made “no determinations” about how America will respond. The American security council veto, which has shielded Israel from UN condemnation for decades, can no longer be taken for granted under the Obama Administration.The core problem facing Israel is this: Its political leaders have been unable to identify a line of policy that both protects Israel at home and projects a favorable image of Israel abroad. While anti-Semitism is a real and growing force in our world today, it is not true that all opposition to Israeli policies in Europe and elsewhere is simply a matter of prejudice and Jew-hatred. Israeli leaders need to reflect on why they have been so consistently outclassed by Palestinians when it comes to public diplomacy, or the world’s only Jewish state will face increasing isolation as old friends drop away.